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Japan Leads the Way The hydrogen import terminal in Kobe

Japan Leads the Way
Hy Touch Kobe - LH2 Terminal Kobe (Kawasaki Heavy Industries)

The concept of Hamburg Green Hydrogen Hub, which is to be set up on the site of Moorburg power station, was introduced at the end of January. The hub integrates numerous technologies that are significant for a developing green hydrogen economy. To be able to cover its energy needs, Germany will have to import a large volume of green hydrogen in the future. The green hydrogen hub is to lie centrally in the port of Hamburg and is therefore the ideal location to handle hydrogen imports by sea. To find out how the import infrastructure could look for green hydrogen, Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs and Innovation Michael Westhagemann made a virtual trip, together with stakeholders from the port of Hamburg and the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster Agency (EEHH), to Kobe in Japan at the start of the February.

Senator Michael Westhagemann: “It is important to me that we maintain close ties with our customers worldwide, especially in these times. While the coronavirus pandemic has caused global trade to stagnate in the meantime, Asia has once again proved itself to be the driver for the global economy and important partner for the Port of Hamburg.”

Double-walled tank as centrepiece of the import terminal in Kobe

“Hy Touch Kobe”, the world’s first import terminal for liquid hydrogen, was opened in the port of Kobe at the end of 2020. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, the Japanese company with overall control of this project, used the visit to present the details to the delegation from Hamburg. A double-walled tank with a capacity of 2,250 cubic metres in which liquid hydrogen at its liquefaction temperature of -253 degrees Celsius is stored, forms the centrepiece of the import terminal. Special ships, such as the Suiso Frontier, Japanese for hydrogen, will be used to deliver and store hydrogen from Australia.

Hydrogen from Australia

Current plans anticipate producing the hydrogen in the Australian federal state of Victoria using energy from brown coal and storing the CO2 produced using CCS-technologies. There is a risk, however, that a lock-in effect could result, and the long-term conversion from grey to green hydrogen will fail to materialise due to cost reasons. As many of the experiences with the import terminal for hydrogen in Kobe can also be transferred to green energy, a close exchange with the Japanese partners is very valuable for future developments in Hamburg.

Alongside liquefied hydrogen, LH2, as it uses in the import terminal in Kobe, Japan is also taking a pioneering role in other transport technologies for hydrogen. Mitsubishi, Chiyoda and Mitsui are investigating the transport of grey hydrogen using a liquid organic hydrogen carrier, LOHC from Brunei together with the Japanese development organisation NEDO (New Energy and Industry Technology Development Organisation). Moreover, Japan’s METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) has entered into a cooperation with Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. to develop a supply chain for blue ammonia. Ammonia is produced from hydrogen and nitrogen and could be used as a simple-to-transport and climate-neutral liquid fuel, provided the energy for its production comes from renewable energy sources. Blue ammonia for which CCS technologies are used in turn carries the risk of a lock-in effect when changing over to green ammonia.

About Tom Mikus

Profilbild zu: Tom Mikus

I’ve been working as an International Project Manager for the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster since 2019. At the cluster, I focus on sharing information about renewable energies beyond Germany's borders. I report on the current developments and activities of the Hamburg cluster and renewable energy hub at an international level.